A will is an essential estate planning document. Yet, according to a recent survey conducted by Gallup, the majority of American adults (56 percent) do not have a will. One of the barriers is that many people are not exactly sure how you can use a will. At Weisinger Law Firm, PLLC, our legal team is devoted to helping people achieve peace, security and true protection through personalized estate planning. We want to make sure that you have all of the information you need to protect yourself and your family. In this article, our San Antonio will lawyer explains what you can and can’t do using a will in Texas.
Creating a Will in Texas: The Cans
You Can Use Your Will for Funeral Arrangements and Last Wishes
You can use a will to make funeral and burial arrangements and express your final wishes. A funeral is often a stressful, even traumatic time for family members and loved ones. Clear instructions help to relieve some of the burden. If you are planning on using your will for funeral arrangements, please be sure to make that fact known to your family members ahead of time. You do not want the instructions to be discovered weeks after your passing.
You Can Use Your Will to Name an Executor
Through your will, you can name the executor of your estate. An executor is the individual who is responsible for managing your affairs and handling your estate. Among other things, an executor will:
- File all necessary Texas probate forms;
- Handle taxes and expenses;
- Notify beneficiaries; and
- Identify and gather your assets for distribution to your heirs.
When selecting an executor, you should make sure you choose someone who is up for the job. You can pick a trusted loved one (spouse, adult child, sibling, friend, etc.) or you can select a professional, such as an attorney.
You Can Use Your Will to Leave Property and Assets to Your Heirs
Through your will, you can leave your remaining money, property, and assets to your chosen beneficiaries. When you create a valid will, you have considerable control over your own estate. Without a will, your assets will be distributed in accordance with the Texas intestacy laws.
You Can Use Your Will to Name a Guardian for Minor Children
Finally, you can also use your will to name a guardian for minor children. If you are a parent of young children, it is imperative that you prepare your estate in a manner that provides full protection for your children—no matter what might happen.
Creating a Will in Texas: The Cant’s
You Can’t Use Your Will to Handle All Estate Planning Matters
A will does not take effect until a person passes away. It is not the proper estate planning tool for certain issues, such as planning for incapacity. A comprehensive estate plan will include other documents as well, such as powers of attorney and advance medical directives.
You Can’t Use a Will to Avoid Probate
A will goes through the probate process. The Texas State Law Library is the legal process through which a will is proven and accepted. As probate can be slow, there are benefits to avoiding it altogether. If you want to avoid probate, other estate planning vehicles, such as a trust, may be an appropriate option.
You Can’t Use a Will to Pass Along Certain Property or Assets
You can use your will for personal property. However, there are certain assets that cannot be passed through a will. Specifically, anything held by a trust, the proceeds of a life insurance policy, and accounts with named beneficiaries (IRA, 401(k), etc.) are not passed through a will.
You Can’t Use a Will to Leave Money to a Child/Loved One With Special Needs
If you want to leave money or property to benefit a child or other loved one with special needs, you should not use a will. Special needs planning is complicated. If you leave a vulnerable loved one direct financial support, you could unintentionally undermine their eligibility for Medicaid and other public assistance programs. The good news is that there are options available: Our San Antonio estate planning team can help you set up a legally valid special needs trust (SNT).
Contact Our San Antonio Will Planning Attorney for Help
At Weisinger Law Firm, PLLC, our Texas will lawyers are passionate, attentive representatives for people and families. If you have any questions about creating a will in Texas, we are more than happy to sit down with you and discuss your case. Contact us today for a free, no obligation initial consultation. With a legal office in Selma, we offer personalized estate planning services throughout the region, including in San Antonio, New Braunfels, Garden Ridge, and Schertz.